Chicken, eggs, sugar & now land in Naivasha: Kenya woos Uganda
The newfound love between Kenya and Uganda has not gone unnoticed but instead raised queries from different quarters over the struggling agricultural sector.
On Thursday, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that Kenya would be ‘gifting’ Uganda with land in Naivasha.
This he said was to aid his counterpart Yoweri Museveni’s government in easing cargo movement using a dry port that will be built on the land.
“I have confirmed to President Museveni that with that development in Naivasha and then moving the SGR to Malaba, goods will be able to move from Mombasa to Malaba in just two days,” President Kenyatta said.
TRIPLE UGANDA SUGAR IMPORTS
A day earlier, the two Heads of State had agreed to increase sugar imports from Uganda to Kenya from 36,000 to 90,000 tonnes per year.
The sugar deal was struck back in 2015 to end a diplomatic feud after claims that Ugandan traders were importing sugar cheaply for repackaging to export to lucrative markets such as Kenya.
The move ended a three-year spat on sugar imports from Uganda to Kenya.
According to the East African newspaper, Kenya began importing sugar after domestic production slumped because of ‘high costs, old and inefficient sugar-crushing machinery, and mismanagement and theft of farmers’ funds.’
In February last year, Deputy President William Ruto said Ksh2.7billion was yet to be paid to farmers who delivered cane to factories. The Government was to settle the debt.
RESUME POULTRY IMPORTS
On Wednesday this week, Presidents Kenyatta and Museveni also struck a deal on resuming poultry imports from Uganda.
The imports had been banned after a deadly bird flu struck the landlocked country in January 2017.
At the time, Willy Bett who was Agriculture CS said the government would establish a task force to ensure proper surveillance on smuggling routes on Kenyans borders with Uganda, especially at the Busia border.
Uganda accounted for the biggest source of Kenya’s egg imports, with traders importing 5 million eggs from its neighbour.
GLUT FROM CHINA EGGS
The ban saw China take over the eggs import space: two years ago, Kenya imported 37,338 eggs, all from China. Last year, this rose to 5.6 million.
The Wednesday move to resume imports from Uganda comes despite the current government’s plan to protect farmers from ‘unfair competition.’
Reports indicate that Kenya’s annual egg production stands at 1.6 billion while annual consumption is at 1.2 billion.
This means that poultry farmers like Rachel Kuria in Kiambu are left with over 400 million eggs following a glut due to increased import of eggs from China.
“There is a time we use to do like 40,000- 50,000 profit in a month, right now its just half of that and we have incurred other costs besides that like vaccines, medicines have gone higher plus also getting the right feeds,” she told Citizen Digital.
President Museveni on Wednesday indicated that Ugandan dairy producers and tile makers will also benefit from his recent deal with Kenya.
In return, his government is expected to lift the ban on beef imports from Kenya.
Strong sentiments on the decision to give Uganda land in Naivasha and increase poultry and sugar imports to Kenya characterised conversations online on Friday.
Kenyans on Twitter under the hashtag #FarmersUnderSiege expressed their dismay, disappointment, frustration and dissatisfaction.
“If this goes on, then RIP to Poultry Farm in in Kenya,” Mr. Kyalo said.
“Most of Kenya’s adult population has grown up being taught that agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy. If it is the small-scale farmer that is growing these agricultural exports why don’t the livelihoods of small-scale farmers reflect export earnings?” Daniel Ngotho posed.
Nyawira Gitaka added: “A country that doesn’t take care of its farmers is one that’s slowly dying! Every Kenyan should be worried. When the farmer is threatened your life is at stake!”
“Everybody isout there trying to promote agriculture amongst young people but we are killing the sector every other day. Our Youth eont get into agriculture unless it is a profitable venture like any other entreprise,” said Rodgers Kirwa.